Sermon Follow Up - Week 26, 2021
THE SERMON'S SUMMARY
Jesus told this parable to contrast himself and his rule with the rulers of this world, as he ascends the hill to Jerusalem as Messiah-King. He does so not to quell their excitement, or manage their expectations, but to totally realign their excitement, their expecations, their hopes, their dreams, their very lives. To move their sights off of the reestablishment of national Israel and retrain onto his Kingdom that revolutionizes hearts, redeems people from their sin, frees the imprisoned soul, opens blind eyes, and welcomes the outcast not simply into the kingdom, but makes them heirs of the kingdom.
THE SERMON'S TEXT
“As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately. He said therefore, “A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your mina has made five minas.’ And he said to him, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?’ And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.’” And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” (Luke 19:11–28 ESV)
THE SERMON'S PRIMARY POINT
Jesus compels us to live for the compassionate kingdom of God that is not of this world rather than being caught up in the ruthless kingdoms of this world.
THE SERMON'S OBSERVATIONS AND/OR SUBPOINTS
(including quotes and questions)
This Parable is Not Matthew's ParableIn this portion of Luke’s writing we are seeing increasingly an emphasis on him entering Jerusalem, and doing so as the Messiah, as King. But he is not entering Jerusalem as the kind of King (nor establishing the kind of kingdom) they are presuming even though He has made it crystal clear over this whole travel narrative that it wasn’t going to look like they were all thinking. The disciples have heard him say he’s going to suffer and die and they’ve frankly been confused. Everyone fully expects that Jesus is going to form his kingdom and free the people of Israel from Rome.
While many would take a different approach to this text, and match it up with Matthew’s parable of the talents, it is my understanding that this parable, in this context in Luke, isn’t meant to inform how we are to live as we wait for his appearing (as Matthew's parable does), using what we have been given for the glory of God, but rather is told to correct any notion that the reign of God is to appear as a political institution like the Roman Empire.
Consider the Two Parables Side by Side
The Parable of the Talents
The Parable of the Ten Minas
Told in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives (ref. 24:3).
Told in Jericho (ref. 19:1).
Spoken to the disciples.
Spoken to a crowd following Jesus (still seemingly in Zacchaeus' house).
Part of Jesus’ answer to the disciples questions regarding when Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed (ref. 24:1-3).
Told because Jesus “was near Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately” (19:11).
“A man going on a long journey” (v. 14)
“A nobleman” was going “into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return” (v. 12).
Three servants were called, “to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability” (v. 15).
“Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas” each (v. 13).
No specific instructions are mentioned.
And He said to them, “Engage in business until I come” (v. 13b)
No citizens mentioned.
Citizens under the nobleman’s rule hated him and did not want him to be their king. Their hatred led them to send a delegation to attempt to keep him from be crowned king (v. 14).
During their master’s absence the first two servants at once “traded with” their talents, each doubling their money. While the third “dug in the ground and hid his master’s money” (vv. 16-18).
No details are mentioned of the servant’s actions during the nobleman’s absence.
The Main Character Returns:
“Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them” (v. 19).
“When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business” (v. 15).
Accounts Settled With Faithful Servants:
The first two servants reported they had doubled their master’s money (vv. 20, 22).
While ten servants were originally called only three interviews are recorded. The first two servants reported they had turned a profit. One 10x, the other 5x the original (very small) amount entrusted to them (vv. 16, 18).
The Faithful Rewarded:
Both faithful servants, though they had been entrusted with varying responsibilities, were rewarded equally, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (vv. 21, 23).
Each servant was rewarded according to their accomplishments. To the servant who produced 10 more minas the king said, “‘Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities’” (v. 17). The second servant, who produced 5 more minas, simply received “authority over five cities” (v. 19).
Account Settled With An Unfaithful Servant:
The third servant “came forward saying, ‘Master I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours’” (vv. 24-25). Note: excuse came first, then the money was returned. Burying money in the ground was a common way of keeping money safe.
Another servant came and said “Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow” (vv. 20-21). Note: money was returned, then the excuse was given. Keeping money in a handkerchief was an unsafe and therefore an uncommon, and reckless, way of holding money.
Main Character’s Response To The Servant’s Excuse:
The master responded, “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest”(vv. 26-27).
The king responded, “I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?” (vv. 22-23).
Wicked Servant’s First Punishment:
The wicked and slothful servant’s talent was taken and given to the servant who had ten talents (v. 28). The reasoning, “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (v. 29).
The wicked servant’s mina was taken away and given to the servant who had produced ten minas (v. 24). Someone protested this action (perhaps the other servants) because he already had ten minas (v. 25). However the king explains, “To everyone who had, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (v. 26).
Wicked Servant’s Second Punishment:
“Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 30).
No specific punishment is mentioned.
No citizens mentioned.
Now “as for those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me” (v. 27).
Jesus would soon be leaving but He would return. In the interim, His servants should faithful steward their God-entrusted resources. Because they will have to give an account for their actions. The faithful will be rewarded, the unfaithful punished.
My (Steve's) Understanding
Jesus told this parable to contrast himself and his rule with the rulers of this world, as he ascends the hill to Jerusalem as Messiah-King. He does so not to quell their excitement, or manage their expectations, but to totally realign their excitement, their expecations, their hopes, their dreams, their very lives. To move their sights off of the reestablishment of national Israel or any other nation and retrain onto his Kingdom that revolutionizes hearts, redeems people from their sin, frees the imprisoned soul, opens blind eyes, and welcomes the outcast not simply into the kingdom, but makes us heirs of the kingdom.
Common Application (though I [Steve] don't see it this way)
Jesus would soon be leaving to receive His kingdom from the Father. In the interim, His servants should, even in the face of oppositions, faithfully steward their God-given resources. Upon the Lord’s return His servants will first be called to give an account of their actions. The faithful will be rewarded, the unfaithful will be destroyed with the Lord’s enemies.
Plenty of people make the same application of this text as the Matthean text. I (Steve) communicated that it may be a mistake to do so. While that may have been too strong of a statement, is there any way that the context of Luke's accounting of this parable made you consider this alternative understanding of this parable?
- The Nobleman isn't Jesus
In context to all that Luke has been communicating in an orderly fashion to Theophilus about the significant compassion and mercy of King Jesus who seeks and saves the sick and the lost and the desperate and the fearful and the broken and outcast and welcomes them into his kingdom…well, the tyranny of this nobleman, in my opinion, just doesn’t fit.
I don’t believe this nobleman is Jesus because the term “noble” is a perverted, earthly title that was specifically given to certain Romans. The people knew this. And while Jesus was certainly the most noble of all people of all time, in earthly terms, Jesus was born in exceedingly humble conditions in Bethlehem. He was derided as being “Jesus of Nazareth.” Not a nobleman.
I don’t believe the nobleman is Jesus because the nobleman goes to a faraway land to acquire his royal power but Jesus doesn’t go anywhere to acquire his royal power. Rather, he is born Messiah, born a King and has been given a kingdom.
I don’t believe the nobleman is Jesus because the nobleman is hated by his ciitzens, who send an embassy to thwart his attempt to gain royal power, but Jesus is both welcomed with rejoicing as he enters Jerusalem and “the people” don’t send a delegation to heaven (which is "the faraway land" if you would believe Jesus to be the Nobleman) to communicate their disdain and disapproval of him.
I don’t believe the nobleman to be Jesus because the third servant believes the nobleman is a harsh, severe man ("A tough, uncompromising, punctilious financier.” [BDAG, Greek Lexicon]). At best, totally wrong thought about God or Jesus (as it would be understood in Matthew's gospel). But I believe in this case, in this specific parable in Luke, that this servant’s picture of the king as a severe man is not some mistaken exaggeration of a bitter slave but is actually evidenced to be true when he ends up slaughtering all his enemies before his eyes. This is the kind of bloodlust that characterizes the world's tyrants, not Jesus. In fact, in his kingdom, he is the one who was slaughtered on our behalf and asked the father to forgive the ones who killed him.
I don’t believe the nobleman to be Jesus because the tyrant in this parable can only slaughter his enemies, not judge them to eternal hell. He has no authority to "cast him into eternal, outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" like Matthew’s parable speaks of about Jesus on that day of judgment. This "weeping and gnashing of teeth" is 100% of the time associated with eternal hell (final judgment).
It seems to me that this “nobleman,” in this parable in Luke, is a pitiless tyrant who strips a servant of his mina, leaving him destitute and then turns to slaughter all those who opposed his rule right before his eyes.APPLICATION
Slaughter isn’t what Jesus does. Certainly it’s what Rome does, and what they will do for years to come, culminating in AD 70 but we’ll get to that in just a moment. The King of the Kingdom of God is unlike earthly tyrants who have armies that bring vengeance, trampling, and desolation. Jesus comes as one who serves and gives himself as a ransom for many. Jesus’ Kingship is humble, he gives his life for others, he dies forgiving his enemies. This King comes to seek and save the lost. This is what Jesus has been teaching over and over and over again. No other kingdom and no other king is like this.
How do you see this? If you consider Jesus to be the Nobleman in this parable, how would you respond to those specific considerations above?
Do parables necessitate allegorical application? Or can parables (stories) draw inferences from historical and cultural context to apply to something broader in the present and/or future? Consider what Eerdman's Dictionary (Bible Dictionary) says about parables. "Today there is no common agreement among scholars on what a parable is or how it functions. Parables are read in many different ways: as allegories, as stories with a religious moral, as examples of Christian morality, as metaphors, as stories that refract a particular understanding of human existence, as political and economic stories, and as poetic fictions (Charles W. Hedrick).
NOTE: If you aren't persuaded by my understanding of this text and still believe Jesus to be the Nobleman, you're in good company. Here is a helpful article by John Piper to help you process the horror of v. 27.
Jesus’ Reign Does Not Mirror Worldly Kingdoms
Those who are listening to Jesus tell this story would, in my estimation, be connecting details in this parable from recent events in their history. They weren’t coming at this with a blank slate. One key individual/story that factors into my understanding of this parable and its application.
Archelaus (referenced in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, book 17)
When King Herod died, he left his kingdom to three surviving sons – Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip. But Herod couldn’t just do that on his own, it had to be approved by Roman officials. So, one of the sons, Archelaus, traveled to Rome to gain the support of the Emperor at the time, Augustus Caesar. The Judeans revolted and sent an embassy to oppose his appointment of the kingdom because of his brutality. Their revolt included not only opposiing his appointment, but killing a number of Roman soldiers. This resulted in Archelaus slaughtering over 3000 enemies/Jews in recompense.
Josephus also gives an account that before Archelaus traveled to receive his kingdom from Rome, he entrusted his house and belongings to his officers, so that when he returned, having received his kingdom from Caesar, things would have been protected for him, even expanded. And when he returned (here’s what the Encyclopaedia states):
Archelaus ruled with a strong hand, suppressing the rebellious elements in the country with the utmost cruelty and brutality. He replaced the high priest Joezer by his brother Eleazar, who in turn was supplanted by Joshua, son of Seth. He inherited his father's passion for building, and erected the city of Archelais near Jericho, and built a new palace in Jericho in place of that destroyed during the disturbances (Encyclopaedia).
Why is this important?APPLICATION
The people in Zacchaeus’ house in Jericho new all about this story (recent history). Their parents had endured the brutal rule of Archelaus. The palace in Jericho still sitting there.
In light of all of that recent history, in that specific location, and in light of the context of this emphasis on Jesus nearing Jerusalem and the expectation of the reign of the Messiah in the kingdom, it seems clear that Jesus is making a specific point about his kingship and his kingdom that stands in precise opposition to that which they have known, and perhaps even expect his kingdom to be. But God’s reign doesn’t mirror the way the kingdoms of the world operate.
What do you make of this historical and geographical context? Any connections with the parable Jesus is telling them right there in Jericho as he approaches Jerusalem?
Whether you agree with my understanding of this text, how is the kingdom of God different than the kingdoms of this world? How are strategies different?
What kingdom does your heart and actions mirror? What is it you are looking for in your social and political engagement?
I stated the following... "The kingdom of God has come and it is built not on a system of government or moral code, but on the Holy sovereignty of the eternal truth of Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus’ purpose as King was to give his life as a ransom for many, to give his life for others, not to annihilate them or have them join some other nationalistic religion. Rather, Jesus came to save a people for himself; to renew the world for that people and to reign over them with true liberty and justice for all who trust in him for ever and ever. May we join him in this, and not get sidetracked by what the voices of this world tell us is most urgent – on all sides of whatever aisles there are – but rather, to seek first his kingdom, loving him and following his example of compassionate and merciful sacrifice and servanthood, with a growing desire to see many more brought into this kingdom where forgiveness and mercy and compassion abound; where true freedom and joy, satisfaction and life is found in knowing, and being known by, the eternal King."
How will you join him in his kingdom that is marked by compassion, mercy, sacrifice, servanthood, forgiveness, freedom, joy, satisfaction, and life this week? In your family, in your neighborhood, in your workplace, in your social media activity, in your political engagement?
RESOURCES FOR THIS WEEK
Antiquities of the Jews
Let Your Kingdom Come (SG Music)
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